During the Ice Ages, gigantic glaciers were in the process of transforming Norway, shattering large rocks and cliff faces into small stones and chiselling out valleys over millions of years. Eventually, this glacial activity made way for the fjords, which naturally filled with seawater, over time. These long, narrow, and deep inlets have become an enduring symbol of this picturesque Scandinavian nation.
Norway has around 1,190 fjords, all of which vary in size, wildlife, scenery, and the communities settled along them. Regardless of where you travel to in Norway, you will be struck by the sheer natural beauty of these glacially-carved delights. But if you want to whittle down your options, here are five of our favourite Norwegian fjords:
Nordfjord occupies a unique position in the northernmost region in Vestland County, sitting between Stad, an exposed stretch along the Norwegian coast, and the biggest mainland glacier in Europe. This range of geography means that keen walkers will particularly enjoy the fjord and the surrounding region, with there being several hundred well-marked walking trails on offer. There’s even a glacier walk!
Because of the coastal landscape, Nordfjord has a historic network of fishing communities, as well as plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like boating, swimming, and kayaking.
And now for "The King of the Fjords". Norway’s largest, deepest fjord owes its spectacular shape to the forces of time and nature. The main part of Sognefjord was carved during a glacial erosive process at the start of the Quaternary period/Pleistocene epoch, which was 2.5 million years ago.
The fjord plunges to 4,291 ft deep and is 127 miles long, branching off into smaller inlets and fjords. Be sure to check out Balestrand, located on Sogenfjord’s northern shore, this village is the ideal base for exploring the fjord.
This UNESCO-listed fjord is the narrowest arm of the majestic Sognefjord. But that’s not to say it has the least impact. With its towering mountains, icy fields, waterfalls, and Nordic farms fringing the hillsides, a cruise along Nærøyfjord will make you feel like you have been transported into another place and another time.
Norway might be famous for its rich history of languages and Viking past, but one visit to Lysefjorden and you will see just how the country’s striking natural scenery has put it on the map.
This 26-mile fjord, located in southwestern Norway, is known for its Preikestolen clifftop. This square platform hangs almost 2,000 feet above the water below and offers incredible views and photo opportunities. But you will have to hike there. For those looking for a more relaxed means of exploring the fjord, a sightseeing boat trip from the city of Stavanger is a great idea.
Hardangerfjord is the world’s fifth-longest fjord and Norway’s second-longest, after Sognefjord. This spectacular waterway is home to powerful waterfalls, charming villages, orchards, and opportunities to try delicious local cuisine. It's particularly striking during the winter months, when snow settles on the mountains framing the waterways.